Turkish Airlines has given some of its flight attendants six months to slim down or face reassignment to ground positions.
The employees, out of which 13 are women and 15 men, have been put on unpaid leave until they lose weight, according to the Haber Turk newspaper.
All the stewards had previously been asked to tone up.
“Weight and height are important factors at all airlines,” a statement from the airline said. “These criteria are important both in terms of appearance and the ability to move about.”
Turkish Airlines follows Air Arabia, a low-cost airline based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates which has taken a similar approach. Flight attendants were given three months to get in shape.
In the States, airlines are forbidden to discriminate against someone because of their weight. But up until the 1990s cabin crew could be fired for a number of reasons such as getting married, wearing glasses and if they where overweight. Following a number of lawsuits and negotiations between airlines and unions the early 1990s, such tactics ended.
A number of overweight people have sued airlines over discrimination after they were forced to pay for an extra seat.
Airlines argue that fitness is an important issue for certain flight attendant tasks. Cabin crew must be able to evacuate passengers quickly in the even of emergency.